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Questions About a Waldorf Education - Page 2

post #21 of 163
We have had a very positive experience with Waldorf education. My daughter has been in a Waldorf school for nine years with the same class teacher for 8 years. The kindergarten teachers only teach kindergarten. We realize it takes a pretty dynamic person to be able to take a class from first to eigth grade. We feel very blessed that our daughter's teacher was able to do that. The school and the teachers are evaluated regularly, and what often happens is a teacher change occurs before 6th grade. Many teachers realize that the middle school years require more demanding academics.
I have found our school to be very open to parent input and individual children's needs. Waldorf education has given my daughter a rich educational experience. She has experienced arts, foreign language, dance, drama, choir, enriching field trips, gardening, orchestra, band and really amazing academics. Her class just finished a very hands on chemistry block.
It is unfortunate that there are people that have had a negative experience with Waldorf education. This has not been ours.
Just the other night when I was tucking my 13 year old into bed she said, "thank you mom for giving me a Waldorf education."
Enough said.
post #22 of 163
I am also considering a Waldorf education for my ds. It is good to hear both the advantages and the disadvantages before making a decision.

For now I am going to sign up for the parent toddler classes, and get a taste of what Waldorf is like.

As far as continuing ds's education past preschool or kindergarten, I will have to do much research, and hearing from parents or former students is really helpful.

My question is-If you don't like a teacher, are there other classes you can switch too, or do all Waldorf's only have one class in each grade? For those of you who have attended, or have children that have or are attending, what is the graduating class size?

I guess all schools are different, but I'd like to get a general idea.
post #23 of 163
I really appreciate all the view points and sharing in this post. For me personally, I've been disappointed. My husband and I moved a few states away in order to be close enough to a Waldorf School for our 4 year old to attend. When we first arrived, my son and I went to a parent/child program. It was pretty clear straight -away that the teacher and my son just did not click. She was a nice enough women, with lots of experience but she seemed lost as to how to deal with energetic boys. She's now heading up the nursery program which we did not send him to. Since becoming more immersed in the community, we've heard really unfortunate things about the school, from many, many people. Pretty much the same type of things so there must be some truth to it. I know of several people who have left the K program because of the teacher and others who are actually fearful that there child will get that teacher versus the other.

I just don't understand how this comes from a school that puts out literature that sounds so beautiful and has a setting that is nothing less than idyllic. While I know that problems exists in the world, it just seems that issues of power, control & other hurtful behavior don't have a place in a Waldorf environment. Am I too idealistic?

Thank for listening.
Margaret

Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there.
~Rumi
post #24 of 163

???s about Waldorf education

Hi, Margaret and Rain!

I was a Waldorf school parent for almost six years, so I feel qualified to answer the questions/respond to the statements you made.

Both of you asked whether all Waldorf schools offer only one class per grade level, making it impossible for a child who does not "click" with a teacher to move to another class.

To my knowledge, all Waldorf schools have one class per grade level. (The exception is nursery and kindergarten, where many schools have two or more nursery/kindy classes.)

That means that all children in, say, a certain Waldorf school's second grade are with the same teacher, with no possibility of moving. Note that when one presents this scenario -- "What if a child and a teacher just do not get along?" -- most Waldorf teachers seem to give a version of the same, overly idealistic answer: "In the world one must learn to get along with lots of different people. So we make it work!" What most don't tell you is that the Anthroposophic belief in karma is very much at play here; Waldorf teachers by and large believe that if a child ends up in their class, destiny is at work and *must not* be fooled with! In my opinion, this is quite unfortunate, not only because it is inevitable that some children and some teachers do not get along, but also because if parents are unhappy with a child's class teacher (do not feel the teacher is good with children, believe the teacher is too easy/too harsh, etc.), there is NO alternative class to move the child to!

Margaret, your comment about the beautiful, idealistic image of education presented by Waldorf schools struck a chord with me. Like so many parents I know, my husband and I enrolled our precious daughters in a local Waldorf school because we trusted that the school would provide what it said it would provide: an arts-based, progressive, non-sectarian education that nurtured a child's individuality. Sadly for our daughters (and, for us!) we found that there was very little "art" at Waldorf (from first through the first half of the fourth grade, when we withdrew our older daughter, most of her drawings were copied line by line, color by color, from the teacher's drawings on the blackboard; same for painting, all done in the wet-on-wet style). "Progressive?" Not unless you call teachers categorizing children by their physical characteristics (shape of ears, complexion, etc.) via the "Four Temperments" (a Medieval idea) progressive! In our view, Waldorf also does NOT nurture individuality; it stresses conformity, albeit a conformity to the "Waldorf way." By the time we withdrew our older daughter, she was one very unhappy little girl who dreaded going to school and being put through the mindless routine that was called a "schoolday." (I am happy to report, however, that after a half year of homeschooling that allowed her to "catch up" and to learn all the things she never was taught at Waldorf, she is now a very happy and successful student at a very good, non Waldorf school. Even better is the fact that her non-W school provides all the things we wanted for her when we enrolled in Waldorf!)

Again, I affirm the right of parents to send their child to whatever school they choose. I ask only that Waldorf schools tell parents the whole truth -- that everything at Waldorf is dictated by anthroposophy -- in advance, so parents can make an informed choice. Again and again, I have heard of parents who moved across the country/state lines, etc. to enroll their child in a Waldorf school in the belief that the school would provide an arts-based, non religious education, only to find that almost nothing they were told was true, and that there was plenty they were NOT told that they should have been. The result? People who are very, very critical of Waldorf education and who are very (in my view, understandably) angry.

Think of it this way. You go into a restaurant that advertises its delicious "vegetarian fare." It's a pleasant looking place, and people seem nice. When the waiter comes, you order a big salad and a tofu burger. But the waiter puts a big, fat, juicy steak on the table. When you say "Oh, no! There must be some mistake? I am a vegetarian, and I ordered a salad and some tofu!" the waiter says "Well, all we have are steaks here. Didn't you know that? Everyone else here knows that!" and walks away, making it YOUR problem. I realize that is a clumsy image, but it might give you some idea what it feels like to "buy" what Waldorf "advertised" (arts based, non religious education) only to find that what they "serve" is far, far different. And when you complain, people call you "bitter" or "so angry" and say that YOU should have investigated the school/restaurant ahead of time, instead of just believing what the sign outside said (or what the teachers, administrators, etc. told us.) Hey! Who would have thought that a SCHOOL would tell anything but the whole truth?????

Lisa
post #25 of 163
Lisa,

Thank you for your reply, sharing your experience and voicing all that I have seen and feel in regard to WE. It's really so unfortunate that there is this wonderful opportunity to educate children in a beautiful and wonderful way and it just misses the mark.

Yet another reason for home schooling.

Best,
Margaret

Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who's there.
~Rumi
post #26 of 163
Hi to all,

I wanted to reply to some of the more negative responses. As I think I have stated we were in the Waldorf school through 3rd grade.

I look at Waldorf school as being alot like a church (no I'm not impling they are religious -- I stated that before). A church seeks to present and live a particular doctrine -- Waldorf schools seek to live by a certian philosophy of education.Churches are only as good at living out thier theology as the people who make up thier community -- Waldorf schools are the same. (And why anyone would want to go to college to be a teacher and then spend 2-3 more years studing tp be a Waldorf teacher is beyond me. They make significantly less than thier bros and siss in the public school. Humm --- sort of like ministers with Masters and Doctors
degrees -- maybe it's because most of them LOVE children )
Like churches, I found that Waldorf schools can be hypocritial -- show me a place in society that isn't that way at one time or another!
As in a church when folks are not happy about something they can always find like minded people with whom to gossip rather than facing head on the situation.
Finally, as in the church, I have found that when someone is displeased with one particualr community and they leave they have a tendency to paint the whole -- doctrine and all other communities -- with the same broad strokes. And suddenly EVERYTHING about the whole philosophy is bad. This has been my experince with others who left our same schools -- it is not just that one incedient, or teacher, but everything.
I don't know if that comparision will help, I hope so.
I am always leary of people who warn me off of something when they have had a bad experince. They don't want to be "alone" in the belief. They don't want to "leave alone".
I know that somunds harsh and I don't mean for it to, but I think the only thing you can do is experince it for your self. And just becasue one school is having a harder time walking the walk and talking the talk, doesn't mean they all are.

When I was discovering that our particualr teacher and school were not working out for our daughter a friend of mine was discovering the same thing for her son. My friend was nasty and demanding of the teacher, and the teacher became defensive.
THAT really helped.
Now my friend is anti EVERYTHING about Waldorf education and she can't believe that we still embrase the basic tenents.

As to the comment about art -- what is wrong with the children learning by copying? That's how they learn the "techs". The children get lots of opportunities for "free drawing and free painting too".
post #27 of 163

??? about Waldorf/teacher training

This reply is for "rev mother" and for, of course, anyone else who wishes to read it!

I felt the need to address one point you made in your last post about Waldorf education. (To be honest, I would love to address several of the points you made, but I fear people here are tired of all this, so I will restrain myself. If there is anyone out there who would like to hear anything more of what I had to say, as someone who spent six years as a Waldorf mom, was on the school's Parent Association, volunteered extensively and is in close contact with many former Waldorf parents from all over the world, just write me offlist.)

Rev mother, you say you wonder why people who become Waldorf teachers go through all that college training, only to spend "2 or 3 more years" studying Waldorf methodology, and you speculate that maybe they just love children.

I am glad you brought that up, because once upon a time I, too, thought that Waldorf teachers actually had more training (or at least as much) as those who teach in public and other schools.

Unfortunately, that is just not true. I have in my possession that catalog, course list and book list from the two leading Waldorf teacher training "colleges" (and believe me, I use that term loosely) in the US. What did I learn this way (in addition to through talking to a number of Waldorf teachers?)

I learned that not only don't Waldorf teacher candidates have to have already earned an undergraduate degree in anything, but that once they are enrolled in the Waldorf teacher training program, most of their time is spent reading works by Rudolf Steiner. It's interesting to note that the courses the teacher trainees take have names that *sound* quite different from what is really learned. (Example: a course on Child Development covers, in fact, how young human beings grow according to R. Steiner. Required reading for such a course is several books BY Steiner. This means that Waldorf teacher trainees are NOT getting the benefit of the accumulated knowledge of many. many fine educators and thinkers who have studied and worked with children in classrooms over the years. No. Instead, they get ONLY what Rudolf Steiner "intuited" through clairvoyance about human development 80 YEARS ago, with no update.)

Also, those employed as teachers in Waldorf schools do not always even have their Waldorf teacher training "certificate" by the time they begin teaching. A number run back and forth to the training centers the first few years, taking "intensives" during the summer, so they can earn that "certificate" while teaching. (Note, too, that a Waldorf teaching "certificate" is useless in getting employment at a public or other non-Waldorf school. It has meaning ONLY in Waldorf circles.)

While our family was involved at our former school, I remember hearing each year about the school's struggle to find a teacher for the next year's first grade. It seemed that there were not enough candidates, and it was often tense: would they find someone in time? Who would it be? I remember talking with several of the teachers (with whom I was quite friendly) and asking "Why don't you guys just find some very experienced teachers from public or private schools, and then just TRAIN them to do things the Waldorf way?" An uncomfortable silence usually followed. I watched as, several times, they hired people who had NO experiences teaching but had a "commitment" to "Anthroposophy." (I recall one individual who had been a meditative monk or something similar who was hired. Within several months, his class was in chaos and parents were extremely unhappy; children were withdrawn from his class. He ended up leaving mid-year, causing a panicked scramble to fill the spot.)

Last evening I ran into a former Waldorf teacher in the parking lot of a local supermarket. We got to talking, and she related how much happier she is at her new teaching job in a public school where faculty members with various backgrounds -- but all with good, solid teacher training -- worked together to educate the kids. She said me that during her time at the Waldorf school, several other faculty members had told her that "You will never fit in because you are not a follower of Steiner." She has concluded that if you work at a Waldorf school, the most important thing is to toe the Steiner line and be a devoted follower. She chose not to do so. Her loyalty is to the children: not to a dead demigogue.

The result of all this is that I advise anyone considering Waldorf to ask the school to give you a list of the faculty and its credentials. Note where only Waldorf training was given (and remember what W. training entails), and whether or not the teacher had any kind of regular college degree. Remember that Waldorf schools are run by the teachers, and usually by an in group of teachers who are the most devoted to Steiner. (One former teacher told me that she found the faculty meetings "scary. It was like a cult.")

Note, too, that anthroposophically devoted teachers believe that destiny brought your child to her or him, and that he or she (the teacher) is the PRIMARY spiritual parent of your child in this life. You, on the other hand, are just the "door" the child came through into this life; in a Waldorf school, you are expected as the "door" to hand the child over to the teacher, who knows better than you do. (Hey, I am not making this up. I have spoken with Waldorf teachers and people who worked at schools, and they inevitably report that the faculty attitude toward parents -- especially parents who ask lots of questions and make demands or even suggestions -- is not favorable. These people told me that they were shocked to learn that some Waldorf teachers consider parents people to be got around so that the teacher can get to his or her "mission:" to guide the child in this life as Steiner said he or she should be guided.)

For those who believe in the tenets of anthroposophy, Waldorf schools are surely wonderful. For those of us who wanted an arts based, non sectarian school, well, maybe not so wonderful!

Regards to all,

Lisa

P.S.: Rev asks what is wrong with copying. Nothing is wrong with a limited amount of copying. But we are not talking limited copying here; we are talking about copying *all* drawings done during classtime as part of the children's often-shown-off "mainlesson books" for at least three and a half years, and about painting (for the same length of time, if not more) in one style (Waldorf wet on wet) according to teachers' explicit instructions. (Yes, in kindergarten the children are given selected colors of block crayons -- teachers do not want them to draw with lines, as there is an anthro prohibition against them -- to scribble and to draw with. Once in grade one, though, that stops.)
A friend of mine in another state is a professional artist, and was delighted to discover Waldorf and its supposed "arts based" instruction for her child. She and her husband moved several states over so their girl could go to a W. school. Once there, the woman was shocked to be told by a teacher that there "is no art at a Waldorf school."
Next time anyone is near a Waldorf school , go in and ask to look around at the art displayed. Note how it all looks alike: amorphous watercolors and weirdly swirling crayon lines, one after the other, grade after grade. Then go to any other school and look at what they have up. Everything is different! In terms of art, Waldorf is a one trick pony.
post #28 of 163
All that just goes to show you --- EVERY Waldorf School is DIFFERENT. The school we were at ONLY had techers who had both a State and Waldorf certification. (This did not totally apply to speciality teachers).

As to the art -- I think we are talking about totally differnt things here. You seem to equate "art" with children being able to freely express themsleves -- drawing whatever they want. I beleive that they benifit from being specifically lead. If you take an adult class the teacher has all the student drawing the same thing in the same way -- personal style comes later. My daughters clas teacher allowed for complete freedom of expression in the greeting cards they made each birthday, or at the birth of a new baby, and in the holiday projects. No, they are not teaching all forms of "art" (I do understand that comes in high school). It is the same thing in music -- ALL children begin with flute, then recorder and then (usually) violin. It is not until the upper grades that there is diversity in expression. But no one is saying that they can't take piano or flute outside of school.

Every family must make up their own minds about WE. And in no way should you put your child into the school unless you have done your own homework. Too often we found that there were parents in our school who would get upset by something and we would wonder --what are they doing here in the first place?

Wladorf education -- you either LOVE it or (as the writer above expresses) you HATE it. But it's not about WE -- it is about what we want for our children.


I have friends who HATE Mothering magazine becasue of a variety of reasons, mostly based upon a different idea of how children should be raised. It all falls into the same basket -- we decide what we believe and then strive to find a place where we can live that way in peace.

I am sorry, that you had a bad experince, and that you have come across so many others who have -- but statistically many have found WE to fulfill waht they want for their children.
I know a woman who believes that Rudoff Steiner is the Anti-Christ --

It also sounds like you think WE teachers are trying to "pull the wool" over parents eyes -- every single complaint you have mentioned we knew going in to the school and thought was great. So where is the problem? We decided to put our child in the Waldorf school -- "becasue of the art on the wall".

p.s. -- You mean your friend moved to another state JUST to attend THAT school? And she didn't do extensive research first? Research on THAT school FIRST, before moving????!!!!She didn't visit? Call? Write?? Interview???
post #29 of 163

??? about Waldorf/teacher training

Rev mom,

I am certainly glad to hear that at your former Waldorf school, *all* teachers (except handwork, music, etc.) had degrees from four year colleges (non Waldorf) before they took Waldorf teacher training. I wish that were true at every Waldorf school.

The trouble is, even those who come in with degrees from non-Waldorf sources "relearn" important things they know so that they can teach about the world according to Steiner. This is sometimes troublesome. Example: Those who have a four year degree in elementary education go to the Rudolf Steiner College Waldorf teacher training program. During that program, they "relearn" even human physiology and come back saying ridiculous things such as that "the human heart does not pump blood," and that "Atlantis" existed and is the cradle of civilization for the "Aryan" people. One fellow who had a four year degree and wanted to become a Waldorf teacher related that he was told in a class that the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado happened because of "the way the Rocky Mountains lay, geographically, unlike the Alps." This guy countered by asking "Then how do you explain the Holocaust?" They had no answer. (Unfortunately, some modern anthro thinkers do have an answer. It is not one I want to repeat here. Just keep in mind their stong belief in karma and destiny.)

That all means one thing -- that Waldorf teachers learn to look at the world and the people and things in it according to Anthroposophy. They view everything via the lens provided by Steiner, who is not even recognized in education circles (or even in philosophical circles!) as a major figure. Again, I respect anyone's right to raise their child according to anthro principles. I ask only that Waldorf schools come clean and tell every prospective parent (and every current parent, while they are at it!) that the schools are all about anthroposophy.

All that said, we have not even touched on the fact that Waldorf schools here and abroad have been accused of promoting racist ideology. (Check out the Dutch mainlesson books available at www.waldorfcritics.org. But be prepared. You might find yourself sick to your stomach. Most parents enrolling children in Waldorf don't know about Steiner's "root race theory," which says that the races of humankind are in various "stages" of evolution. He places the white or Aryan race as the most evolved, with the "yellow" -- what you and I call "Asian" -- race as the "adolescents" and the "black" races as infants. There is a famous Steiner quote that says "blond hair actually bestows intelligence" and discusses how, as people become "increasingly dark," they will become "increasingly dumber." Books with this quote and others similar are on sale in many Waldorf school bookstores. I have talked to Waldorf teachers who insist that this is not racist at all, but just an observation about the spiritual ages of various races. Or these teachers and anthroposophists say that you can't take Steiner at face value, that he did not mean to be racist. (Funny how they take him at face value -- and quite literally -- when he says children should be protected from reading and the printed word and critical thinking until at least after 7 and, ideally, until age 14!!)

Had I known ANY of this before enrolling my children, I would not have done so. I would have done what I eventually did, and run the other way.)

Lisa
post #30 of 163
momofgurlz and others who do not agree witth waldorf schools-

i am the duaghter to queen mamma and i went to waldorf through 8 grade. i am now at a public high school and am doing great. i heard that you guys said that waldorf students have a hard time transfering to public school and are behind. i am a sophmore in high school and want to let you know that it is a rare case when someone has problems transfering from waldorf to high school. i have a 3.85 gpa, by the end of this term i will have a 4.0. right now as a sophmore i am taking all junoir or senior classes. i have gotten several academic awards and am over the 90th percentile in the country in almost every subject. All the people in my class who are going to public schools now are doing just as well. and just a little fact for you guys, schools such as standford will except students from waldorf with a lower sat score than a person from a public school with a higher score. ohh..and i was not behind in academics when i got to the school, i was ahead. another point in waldorf is that it requires you to play and instrument. this looks very good for colleges. i am also eligable for the national honor society which i am in the process for appling for right now which is the highest honor you can get in high school. The one part of waldorf that needs improvmentis the sports. that is the reason that i did not go to waldorf high school, that and that the high school is about 1 hour away. the best thing about waldorf is that the teachers care about you ! they want you to suceed. that is really all i have to say about waldorf education. if you have any questions you can write back
queen mammas 16 year old daughter
post #31 of 163

to queen mama's daughter/?? about Waldorf

Dear daughter of the queen (hey, I guess that makes you princess, right?! <g>)

I am so glad to hear that you had a good experience at your former Waldorf school, and that you had no trouble moving from a Waldorf environment to a non-Waldorf environment. That is just how it should be.

Clearly, you are a very bright young woman who is interested in learning and who has set goals for herself. I am sure your mom is very proud of you!

Princess (is it OK if I call you that?), I just want to make sure you understand that I was not "dissing" Waldorf schools just for the heck of it. My problem with Waldorf schools (and please don't say I am "against" them; that is not the case) is that many of them don't tell parents enough about what Waldorf is before the parents enroll their children. The result is that people who do not agree with the way Waldorf conducts education (or even about what "education" means!) sign their children up and become very disenchanted and even angry. That does not have to happen, if only Waldorf schools would tell parents upfront, before they enroll their children, what Waldorf is all about.

I certainly do not hide the fact that I am highly critical of many things about Waldorf schools. I am critical of the way Waldorf teachers are trained (I do not believe that training is sufficient preparation for a teacher to take a class of 20+ children from first through 8th grades!) and I am critical of the way Waldorf schools view children's development. (I simply do not believe that it is harmful, physically or emotionally, for children to ask cause and effect questions, to engage in critical or abstract thinking, or to read before the age of 7 or 8!) But most of all, I am critical that the folks running Waldorf schools don't make their mission -- education according to anthroposophy -- really clear to parents before they sign their children up. (Even worse is when parents whose children are already enrolled begin to find themselves puzzled about various aspects of the school, and when they ask questions, teachers get very tense and upset and won't answer, or at least won't answer directly. Some questioning parents -- who are only trying to figure out what's going on! -- end up being called into meetings with lots of the teachers who run the school and being told to be quiet or to take their child elsewhere! It's a horrible experience.)

The bottom line, however, is that you enjoyed your experiences at Waldorf and feel you have benefitted from them, and that is great. One of the wonderful things about the world of discussion and ideas is that there is room for many opinions along the spectrum. I certainly enjoyed hearing yours, daughter of queen mama, and would love to hear more.

Warm regards,

Lisa the Waldorf critic, but a big fan of the daughter of the queen mama!!! <g>
post #32 of 163
I for one am enjoying this discussion, and finding it very enlightening.

It's better to know before enrolling, what they might be teaching in each particular school.

Lisa-I appreciate what you have posted about some of the things they are teaching in some of the Waldorf schools, because I for one do not want my son taught those things. Knowing this, I have the opportunity to address these issues with the school, and if they don't like it, or I don't like what I am told, I don't have to enroll my son there. Unfortunately, many parents did not have this info before enrolling their children.

From what I am reading, it really seems like it depends on the individual school, and the teachers. Speaking of teachers, I would find out what kind of certification the teachers in this particular school are required to have.

Like I said before, I am going to try the toddler parent classes and get a feel of the school, those classes still seem much more appealing than the regular mommy and me classes.
I haven't heard anything negative about the parent toddler classes or the preschool.
post #33 of 163
this is princess
lisa-
i am sorry you had a bad experience. in my opinion athroposophapy(or however you spell it) is evolving. just like christianity has evolved through the many centeries that it has been taught. i can understand how some schools can be different than others because some of the waldorf schools are not set in stone. part of waldorf that i think parents should know before enrolling their children is that it really is a 8 year committment. the way that i understand that they tech is that they first teach to the childs creative side and then to their logical side so by the time they are ready to learn the want to learn. instead of the oppisite which is what the public schools do. and yes, if you take a child out of waldorf when he/she is in 4 or 5 grade they will be behind. however, if you leave them in, they will want to learn and end up being more advanced than a public school child. if you are worried about your childs reading level, there is no rule against getting a tudor to help your child so they can catch up. but, not everyone can fit into one type of school because everyone is different and that is why our soiciety is so blessed to have different options. ohhh...i don't think the waldorf teachers are trained to put you in a room w/ a bunch of other teachers and not let you talk. i would be angery too. i guess it all depends on the school. furthermore, not all public schools are good either so, i guess the point i am trying to make is that there are two sides, good and bad, and if you are looking to put your child in any school do as much reasearch as you can on that paticular school.
and lisa- i do not mind being calles princess
post #34 of 163

more ???s about Waldorf

Hi, everyone!

Once again, I must commend the moderators who monitor/run this board. There are not many places on the Internet (or in real life! <g>) where people with disparate views of Waldorf education are permitted to express those views so openly. The fact that this is happening here speaks volumes both about the quality of individuals who post on this board and those who run it. Hurrah for Mothering!

I wanted to address Rain's comment that she was glad that I had posted some of the things that children at some Waldorf schools learn that are different from that learned by children at non-Waldorf schools. I think this is an important point. Many people believe that Waldorf students learn the *same* things as their non-Waldorf peers, and that it is just the *way* the info is imparted by teachers that is different. (In other words, they believe that Waldorf is a methodology only .. a way of giving children information.) This is not true. Though Waldorf students are exposed to lots of the same information as their non-Waldorf peers (the alphabet, numbers and their operations, for example), there is a whole trove of information/"knowledge" that is particular to Waldorf schools and their students.

Science provides a good example. Before enrolling my own daughters in a Waldorf school, I asked to see a year-by-year syllabus that laid out what the children learn each year, subject by subject. I noted, with approval, that third graders would have a science block on "zoology." Unfortunately, no one thought to point out to me that what Waldorf schools mean by "zoology" differs markedly from what the rest of the world, the non-Waldorf world, means by use of the same term! In fact, this did not come to my attention until my own girl reached 3rd grade and I saw her "zoology" mainlesson book, which contained information that was erroneous and bizarre, even to me, a non-scientist! My inquiry into why Waldorf "zoology" was different from the rest of the scientific community's "zoology" turned up something far more startling (at least to me!): Waldorf students are taught Steiner science. Steiner science is at odds with what most modern thinkers consider "science" in a number of respects, so much so that what is taught at Waldorf schools has gained the attention of the National Council for Science Education.

An NCSE report issued a few years ago said "Anatomy and physiology a la Steiner are unrecognizeable by modern scientists: the heart does not pump blood, there are 12 "senses" corresponding to the signs of the zodiac ... Physics and chemistry are just as bad: the "elements" are earth, air, fire and water. The four "kingdoms of nature" are mineral, plant, animal and man ... Typical geological stages are Post-Atlantean, Atlantis, Mid-Lemuria and Lemuria."

There is lots more, (including the ever-shocking statements about how blond hair and blue eyes are linked to intelligence) but I think those of you reading will get the picture. Though I affirm any private school's right to teach anything they want, it is clearly wrong in my opinion for a Waldorf school to say that children will be taught "zoology" and "history" and "optics," etc. without explaining that at a Waldorf school, the content of these subjects is markedly different from what the parent (unless that parent is an anthroposophist) naturally expects. Let's face it: if a school plans to tell my child that "animal forms represent physically incarnated soul forces which the human being had to dispense with in order to mature physically to receive the ego ...." during a unit on evolution, well, I NEED to know that going in.

Which is why I advise anyone thinking about enrolling a child in Waldorf not only to ask questions of the teachers and others running the school, but also to read Steiner's books on Waldorf education.Steiner and his view of the world and everything in it, are at the heart of a Waldorf education. When Waldorf schools tell parents that the school's methods are "informed" by Anthroposophy, it is somewhat of a verbal dodge. They would be more honest to say that Waldorf schools are Steinerian, because so much of what is done (and how it is done) is dictated (not "informed") by Steiner.

Sometime back after we withdrew our children from their Waldorf school, another former parent and I made up a list of questions that we believe every parent thinking about Waldorf should ask. One can learn a great deal about Waldorf and anthro. education just by reading the list. If anyone is interested in obtaining the list, I would be happy to e-mail it to them offlist.

Once again, good luck to everyone. It is clear that all of you are wonderful, caring, involved parents, and I am happy to be part of the community here.

Lisa

P.S.: To Princess -- you are right in saying that anthroposophy is like Christianity and other religions in that it is interpreted many ways by its various followers. But you see, that is just my point: Anthroposophy IS a religion, and religion is a very individual and person choice. One should never hoist her religion on another person in an aggressive way. That is why I object so much when Waldorf schools call themselves "non sectarian!" Anthroposophy is, indeed, a "sect" (small religious group) and Waldorf schools are anthroposophy's parochial schools. I am convinced that if Waldorf schools proudly proclaimed what they really are -- the religious school of anthroposophy (and explained what they believe) -- enrollment would skyrocket. Unfortunately, this often does not happen and people like me -- people who are not anthroposophists and who do not believe that blond hair makes someone intelligent! -- sign our children up unknowingly. In the end, children are hurt, parents are hurt, money and time are wasted and bad feelings abound. How much simpler, and more right, just to tell the truth at the start, eh?
post #35 of 163
Hello all interested in Waldorf education... I am the mother of Princess and her four princess sisters. All my daughters attend or will attend Waldorf. I want to first thank you Lisa for inspiring my daughter to share her experiences. When I told her of this dialogue she felt compelled to respond with her own views, researched the site, created an identity for me, and initiated conversation. I am thrilled and very proud of her to say the least. At this point I also feel compelled to address many of the issues I have read on this board.

Some of the comments have inspired my partner and I to discuss our adult experiences with our Waldorf school, teachers, administrators and ourselves. It has been mentioned that Waldorf does not thoroughly disclose the principles of anthroposophy and how it impacts each teachers work. While not agreeing that anthroposophy is a religion (I will discuss this later) Waldorf is a private school similar to religious bassed schools. It has not been my experience that Catholic Schools explain the tenements of Catholocism or how each teachers experience of their spiritualality influences their teaching. The same could be said for Chrisitain schools, with their varied dogma and influences. Waldorf education is based on a philosophy whose most expressive student was Rudolf Steiner. However the application of this information is as varied as our individual experiences. To critique a whole education system on this limited view is short sighted.

I found it quite interesting that when Chelsea read your last reply Lisa, she said "what is antroposophy?". She could tell you about the beliefs of Christianity, Budism, Hinduism, Judeaism, Greek Mythology, Roman history, and the development of Democracy (all part of her Waldorf education) but she had not heard of Anthroposophy. Anthroposophy is a philosophy not a religion. It is the science/study of humanity. While there are unique and interesting ideas which are the root of many philosophies it is rare that any one meets our individual beliefs without some criticisms. Without a doubt, some are more palitable than others and humanity will never be satisfied with just ONE philosophy. Steiner himself said do not take what I have said just because I have said it. Find it for yourself as this study is not meant for everyone.

This education experience clearly was not meant for you and your children. I could say that I would be terribly dissatisfied in a traditional Christian school or for that matter a public school.

The requirements for training and education of Waldorf teachers is similar to all private schools. Since most private schools do not receive public funding they are not regulated by the same requirements as public scholl for education and credentials. For that matter the requirements for public schools differ from state to state and may be modified when there is a shortage of "qualified teachers". There are several colleges throughout the world which train prospective Waldorf teachers and this education encompasses far more than academics. Some teachers may not have had the benefit of a completed education, however receive continued education throughout the year, have mentors within the school and are truley committed to giving the children what they need for success in life. I would like those of you who are critical of this aspect to consider the many mothers and fathers who have chosen to homeschool their children with absolutely no teacher training but a ton of desire, committment and love. Are there sometimes problems in this area in a Waldorf classroom? Of course there are, just like any other education system. I personally have had masters level instructers who were completely unqualified.

Some children and parents are not meant to be part of a Waldorf education plan. I would suggest that this not a result of the limits or deficits of the education, but rather the personal needs and beliefs of the family. Is this any different than any other education system? We as the parents are entrusted to make the best possible decision for our schildren and to continually evaluate this decision. Some of my friends have met the limits of our school with their particular children's needs. There are many solutions to this problem from resources offered in the Waldorf system (but not in the school), private testing and tutoring, extra parental help, to withdrawl form the school tempoarily or permanently. Whatever the issue it is our responsibility to research the schools, monitor our childrens progress, mediate for them, and continually ask a higher consciousness for direction.

For those of you who are interested in Waldorf and have taken the time to read this far I encourage you to visit the prospective school at different times of year and as many classrooms as you possibly can. There is a wonderfull presentation toward the end of the year called "meet the graduates" (maybe Chelsea should go ) where you can actually meet older students who have graduated and chat with them about their experiences. Most importantly truely trust yourself and the guidance you feel. All the rest will fall into place.

Feel free to contact me if you want to talk more.

Queen Mamma
post #36 of 163
I've been reading this thread with much interest. DD is 17 months old and we've been going to a parenting class at the local waldorf school. I find the class very valuable and agree with Steiner's early childhood education viewpoints. I am a bit unsure about this whole anthropology discussion. There is a waldorf education conference next month in Sacramento that we are signed up for. I decided to sign up for the session on anthropology to find out first hand what its all about. There is also a session on karma that dh will be attending. DD is waking up, gotta go...
post #37 of 163
MamaMAMAma

Thats a great idea to go to the conference! Many of our teachers will be there. My girls attend the Applegate school in Auburn. I'm sure that from what you have read here you will be prepared with a boat load of good questions. Keep an open heart and good luck.

Queen Mama
post #38 of 163
Thanks Queen Mama, I'm really looking forward to the conference. I've been getting a lot of conflicting information from people who love waldorf schools and those who just hate it. I believe in finding it out for myself. We're leaning more towards homeschooling in a waldorf-inspired way, but we do live fairly to close to a waldorf school.
post #39 of 163
momofgurlz

Hi,

and thankyou. At last! Some-one esle that can throw a large dose of realizm into the many problems of Waldorf Quackery.

But you have no Private Mail.

Private mail is a system by which we can communicate, and not through e-mail (so no spam) on these boards..

Would you send me a message?

For those looking for links:

Anthroposophical Medicine is another site describing the sudo science.

:

a
post #40 of 163
I appreciate a good discussion. I strongly believe that different view points expressed are a good thing.
What I don't understand on this thread is why those who oppose Waldorf Education use terms such as "Quackery" and seem so very angry. I also don't understand why those who are opposed can not acknowedge a differing view with out the "cracks".

The bottom line is that no one should enter a Waldorf (or any) school without having thier eyes wide open. However, I feel that those who have expressed opposing views to Waldorf Schools would like to see them closed down.

Truly, I wish you grace and peace.
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